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Fri Apr 13, 2012, 03:27 PM

Population growth isn't really our problem

In the course of preparing for a panel here at the Conference on World Affairs, I ran across a 2009 editorial by environmental journalist Fred Pearce, in which he explains why current global population trends aren't as horrific as they're often made out to be. I thought you should read it.

Global population is going up, Pearce writes, but that's not the same thing as saying that birth rates are going up. And, in the long run, that distinction matters. Around the world—not just in the West—human birthrates are decreasing. And they've been decreasing for a really long time.

Wherever most kids survive to adulthood, women stop having so many. That is the main reason why the number of children born to an average woman around the world has been in decline for half a century now. After peaking at between 5 and 6 per woman, it is now down to 2.6.

This is getting close to the “replacement fertility level” which, after allowing for a natural excess of boys born and women who don’t reach adulthood, is about 2.3. The UN expects global fertility to fall to 1.85 children per woman by mid-century. While a demographic “bulge” of women of child-bearing age keeps the world’s population rising for now, continuing declines in fertility will cause the world’s population to stabilize by mid-century and then probably to begin falling.

Far from ballooning, each generation will be smaller than the last. So the ecological footprint of future generations could diminish. That means we can have a shot at estimating the long-term impact of children from different countries down the generations.

http://boingboing.net/2012/04/13/population-growth-isnt-reall.html?

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Reply Population growth isn't really our problem (Original post)
MindMover Apr 2012 OP
RC Apr 2012 #1
cprise Apr 2012 #2
saras Apr 2012 #3
raccoon Apr 2012 #4
area51 Apr 2012 #5

Response to MindMover (Original post)

Fri Apr 13, 2012, 03:53 PM

1. This sounds good.

 

When we use up the of the easy oil, there is going to be a lot of hungry people. You can't run tractors on solar power or fertilize with wind power.

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Response to MindMover (Original post)

Fri Apr 13, 2012, 04:03 PM

2. Except

We could run out of food, water and fuel before we get to that leveling-off point. I'd much rather have a world that leveled off at 7bn people than 10bn. Even then, we would be using up resources at a rate that is too high to prevent an eventual crash and die-off scenario.

The poster of that Boingboing article, MKB, is also saying that we need to remove CO2 from the energy debate because trying to regulate CO2 makes powerful people mad. If we push 'clean energy' for other reasons, we'll get the CO2 reduction as a 'bonus'. Of course, she fails to understand that the definition of 'clean energy' would then change to include things that emit greenhouse gases (coal would become 'clean' as long as power plants used the old ash and SO2 scrubbers that are already standard).

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Response to MindMover (Original post)

Fri Apr 13, 2012, 07:21 PM

3. This also presumes, against the evidence, that the fertility decrease is voluntary and controllable

 

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Response to MindMover (Original post)

Sat Apr 14, 2012, 08:49 AM

4. Overconsumption by first world citizens is at least 50% of the problem. nt

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Response to MindMover (Original post)

Mon Apr 16, 2012, 09:57 AM

5. In regards to the U.S.,

there's a problem with finite resources, and there aren't enough jobs to go around for everyone who wants one. That's part of the reason we're still in the 2nd Great Depression.

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